Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Captain Chris Gayle yesterday produced a Man-of-the-Match performance to guide Jamaica Tallawahs to an entertaining last-ball win over the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel at Sabina Park, in the final match of the first round of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League.
The powerful left-hander scored an impressive 51 off 24 balls, including five sixes and four fours, as the Tallawahs, set 134 to win after restricting the Red Steel to 133 for eight, achieved their total at 134 for seven off the final ball.
Entering the last over needing seven runs for victory, the Tallawahs were taken home by Danza Hyatt and tournament debutant, leg-spinning all-rounder Akeem Dewar, who hit the winning run - a single through the legs of Ireland's Kevin O'Brien at cover, much to the delight of a jam-packed Sabina Park.
The first ball of the over, bowled by the experienced Dwayne Bravo, saw the dismissal of David Bernard Jr caught at mid-off after the 32-year-old went for a big hit straight down the ground.
This, however, brought into strike Hyatt, who after hitting a four through the covers, turned over the strike to Dewar to effectively bat the last three balls.
After squeezing a shot behind square for two runs to tie the match, Dewar hit the fifth ball to a close-in fielder, thus raising the possibility of a Super Over.
That, however, was not be, as despite smashing the ball again through the offside, it went through the legs of O'Brien, much the joy of the near-capacity crowd.
Hyatt, who slammed a six and two fours, eventually ended not out with a run-a-ball 25, while Dewar was left unbeaten on three.
Gayle, who took a liking to Red Steel captain Dwayne Bravo - whom he hit for three sixes and a four in the fourth over before he was undone by the Trinidadian in the sixth - got best support from opening partner and reserve wicketkeeper batsman, Chadwick Walton.
The two put on 66 for the first wicket, with Walton eventually falling in the 14th over for 28 with the team needing 41 runs to win.
Earlier, Jamaica, who left out their four overseas-based players - Muttiah Muralitha-ran, Vernon Philander, Ahmad Shehzad and Jacques Rudolph - won the toss and decided to field.
It was a fairly good decision as led by fast bowlers Bernard Jr and Andrew Richardson, they were able to limit Red Steel to 37 for three in the seventh over with openers Adrian Barath and O'Brien, and Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene back in the pavilion.
However, led by Dwayne Bravo and his younger brother, Darren, who shared a 34-run fifth wicket stand, the Steel were able to recover and post a challenging total.
Dwayne Bravo made a top score of 29 off 16 balls, including a six and four fours, with Darren getting 27 off 29 with two sixes and a four.
Gayle took two for 24 off his allotted four overs.
The Tallawahs will now play Barbados Tridents in the second semi-final, on Friday at Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad, with the Red Steel taking on preliminary round winners Guyana Amazon Warriors a day earlier at the same venue.
Teams Mat Won Lost Tied N/R Pts Net RR Amazon 7 5 2 0 0 10 +0.628 Tallawahs 7 5 2 0 0 10 +0.162 Tridents 7 4 3 0 0 8 +1.069 Red Steel 7 3 4 0 0 6 -0.647 Hawksbills 7 2 5 0 0 4 -0.151 Zouks 7 2 5 0 0 4 -1.190